The host Kenai Central baseball team picked up its first win of the season Friday by topping Houston 10-5 in Southcentral Conference action.
The Kardinals stayed at home Saturday and lost to Grace Christian 15-0 in five innings of Southcentral ball.
The Hawks and Kardinals finish 1-7 in the league, with Kenai taking the tiebreaker due to head-to-head play. Grace finishes 4-4 in league.
Friday against Houston, Kenai coach Luke Oliver said some points of emphasis finally paid off.
“We’ve been talking a lot about walks and how many outs we need each inning,” Kenai coach Luke Oliver said. “We cut way down on walks and only needed more than three outs in one of the innings.”
Harold Ochea pitched 6 1-3 innings for the Kards, giving up five runs — three earned — and five hits while whiffing three and walking eight. Oliver did point out that Ochea walked just three in the first five innings before tiring.
“He was locating his fastball and his changeup was awesome,” Oliver said.
The coach said the Kards also had two double plays, with Ochea doubling a runner off base after catching a screaming line drive.
Caleb Smith and Sam Berry were 2 for 4 for the Kards, while Manny Noriega was 2 for 3. Oliver said the Kardinals drew a lot of walks.
“They were being patient at the plate and laying off the higher pitches,” Oliver said of his squad. “They played well, and Harold was throwing strikes like crazy.”
Oliver said he’ll live with hits instead of walks. Saturday, the Grizzlies hit the ball well in the big win.
“They were tattooing the ball left and right and hitting it in the gap,” Oliver said.
Noriega got the start and yielded 12 runs, though not all of them were earned. Parker Mattox gave up the final three runs in 2 1-3 innings as Grace Christian brought in some bench players. Oliver said Mattox is a sophomore and first-year player. The coach added the pitcher did a great job throwing strikes.
Knox Amend led Kenai at the plate, going 2 for 2 with a double.
Seniors Noriega and Carlos Caballero were honored by the Kardinals on Saturday.
Homer 1, Wasilla 0
The Mariners wrapped up the No. 2 seed at the Southcentral Conference tournament by shutting out the Warriors.
Kodiak, Homer and Wasilla all finished 6-2 in league, but head-to-head play has the Bears with the top seed and the Warriors at No. 3.
Seth Adkins was masterful on the mound for the Mariners, going all seven innings and giving up three hits while striking out four and walking five.
“He’s always been our ace up our sleeve,” Homer coach Rich Sonnen said. “He’s our catcher and he’s so valuable behind the plate we don’t pitch him much.”
The Mariners got their lone run of the game in the third inning, when Harrison Metz was hit by a pitch and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Adkins. Joe Ravin, who finished 3 for 3, scored Metz with a single. Also for Homer, Adam Brinster was 2 for 3 and Adkins had a hit.
Sonnen said it was an emotional night, with the seniors being honored, but still having to concentrate to play for a high seed. The seniors honored were Ravin, Brinster, Spencer Warren, Landon Bunting, Douglas Dean and Kyle Wells.
Soldotna 13, Grace Christian 3, 6 innings
The Stars moved to 4-4 in the Southcentral Conference and created a possible logjam with three other teams.
Colony is 4-3 and Palmer is 3-4 with a game left against each other Monday. Grace is 3-4 with a game left against Kenai on Saturday.
Logan Smith pitched all six innings for the Stars, giving up three earned runs on five hits while walking four and striking out six.
“He’s our bull,” SoHi coach Robb Quelland said. “He’s our horse. We expect him to go on the mound and throw a complete game every time he goes out.”
Jeremy Kupferschmid set the tone on offense, hitting a home run on a full count leading off the bottom of the first.
The top four in the order flourished, with Kupferschmid 3 for 4 with three runs, Cody Quelland 2 for 3 with three runs and two RBIs, David Michael 4 for 4 with three runs, and Brandon Crowder 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
Making Quelland’s performance more impressive is that he had to rush to the game after playing goalie for the soccer team in a game that featured 100 minutes of play, then penalty kicks.
Also for the Stars at the plate, Caleb Spence had a hit, two runs and two RBIs, while Hunter Thompson, Jake Marcuson and Logan Smith added hits.
The seniors were honored Friday. The list of seniors is Quelland, Crowder, Smith, Thompson, Spence, Marcuson, Ian Reger and Butch Slats.
“That’s the phenomenal ninth-grade class that came in when we came back to the program,” Quelland said. “We’re privileged to have them leading the program this year.”
Wasilla 18, Soldotna 14
The visiting Warriors notched a nonconference victory as the Stars ended their regular season at 6-6-1.
The two squads are normally Southcentral Conference rivals, but Quelland said the game took a different tone because it was nonconference and at the tail end of the regular season.
“It reminded me of an adult softball game — the way the kids were interacting,” Quelland said.
Adult softball features lots of home runs, and Jimmy Arend came through there for Wasilla. He went yard three times en route to finishing 3 for 4 with four runs and six RBIs.
Jake Marcuson pitched the first five innings, giving up 14 hits and 11 runs while walking one and striking out nobody. Cody Quelland took the loss, giving up seven unearned runs and two hits while walking four and fanning one.
Coach Quelland said he was moving around players to different positions by the end of the game, resulting in some runs that normally wouldn’t happen.
“We did exactly what we wanted to do,” Quelland said. “We got to see other players in positions they generally don’t get to play.”
David Michael led the Stars on offense by finishing 4 for 4 with two runs, while Cody Quelland was 2 for 3 with three RBIs. Logan Smith was 2 for 4 with two runs, while Jeremy Kupferschmid had three runs, and Brandon Crowder and Ian Reger added hits.